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Hero’s homecoming

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County welcomes home Marine injured in Afghanistan

By Abdon Sidibe

CRYSTAL RIVER — Sirens sounded, motorcycles thundered and Old Glory fluttered as Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Langston White’s motorcade bounded its way to the Crystal River National Guard Armory late Wednesday afternoon.

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Inside the building, hundreds gave White, 22, a rousing welcome at a special event for the wounded warrior, sponsored by the Blanton-Thompson American Legion Post No. 155.

Various military, civic and veterans organizations paid the man of the hour regards and thanked him for his sacrifice and patriotism.

On Aug. 10, the Crystal River native was patrolling in the Kajaki District in the Helmand province of Afghanistan when he was severely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED). 

White lost his legs in the attack and suffered extensive additional injuries. Since then, he has been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland for treatment.

White saluted and easily smiled with those who turned out to wish him well. He was surrounded by his mother, Heather, and father Bob White — himself a Marine veteran — and a host of other family members.

“He is a Crystal River kid who grew up and joined the Marines and went to Afghanistan and got badly hurt and now he is dealing with all this emotion and attention,” Josh’s father said.

“It is really awesome to see all these people come out to support him and as you can see, he smiles and handles it all. He handles everything a lot better than I ever would,” Bob White said, fighting back tears.

“But he is the kind of kid — whatever challenge you put before him he will face it and conquer it,” he said.

County Commission Chairman Joe Meek fulfilled a vow the board made to White’s family in August and personally delivered and read a proclamation declaring Aug. 28, 2012, as “Josh Langston White Day in Citrus County.”

“You represent the best of us,” Meek told the 2009 Crystal River High School graduate.

“We are grateful for what you have done and we love you,” Meek added.

Commissioners Rebecca Bays, John “JJ” Kenney and Scott Adams were also in attendance.

Crystal River Mayor Jim Farley presented White with keys to the city and proclaimed the week of Dec. 24 “Josh White Week.” 

On Aug. 22, White was awarded the Purple Heart.

White is expected to occasionally return to Walter Reed for follow-up treatment, but is home for now, according to American Legion Commander Mike Klyap.

Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe can be reached at 352-564-2925 or asidibe@chronicleonline.com.